This new Adafruit shield makes it easy to use a 16x2 Character LCD. This one features the negative display (colored text on dark background)
What's better than a 16x2 display? One that shouts at you in color! Well, one color at a time. Pick one out of the RGB combination spectrum, and have it the text show up in that color!
Unfortunately, LCDs with this feature do use up a bunch of pins (up to 9!), so the fine folks at Adafruit have come up with a shield that manages all these functions and makes it available to you via I2C, so you only need 2 pins from your Arduino to talk to it. That frees up a bunch more for your Arduino project!
This shield kit is perfect for when you want to build a stand-alone project with its own user interface. The 4 directional buttons plus select button allows basic control without having to attach a bulky computer.
The shield is designed for 'classic' Arduinos such as the Uno, Duemilanove, Diecimila, etc. It will also work perfectly with Arduino Mega R3's. Earlier Mega's have the I2C pins in a different location and will require you to solder two wires from the I2C pins on the shield and plug them into the different I2C locations at Digital 20 & 21.
Of course, Adafruit even wrote an easy-to-use Arduino library that you can easily add to your project. It acts just like the built in LiquidCrystal library, but automatically uses the shield pins. You can also easily query the 5 keypad buttons to get input through the library, so you get extra buttons without using any more pins.
At this time, the library and shield can control the RGB backlight of our character LCDs by turning each LED on or off. This means you can display the following colors: Red, Yellow, Green, Teal, Blue, Violet, White and all off. There is no support for PWM control of the backlight at this time, so if you need to have more granular control of the RGB backlight to display a larger range of colors, this shield can't do that (the I2C expander does not have PWM output).
Product page with tutorials, documentation and assembly information